Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr.
Released: May 30, 2014
Viewed in theaters: June 17, 2014
I'm a big fan of Top Chef and since I don't have Bravo, I have to buy the season pass from iTunes and while watching last season, they had an episode where Jon Favreau was a guest and he was there to promote his upcoming film, Chef. I am also a fan of Master Chef (US version is great, but the Aussie version blows it out of the water and sadly I have not been able to see the past couple of seasons because I can't find them on YouTube!) and I knew I would enjoy this movie about a chef who quits his job at a fancy restaurant to follow his dream of owning a food truck.
Before I get into the movie, let me tell you something a little irritating that happened at the theater. I went on a Tuesday afternoon because movies cost $5 on Tuesdays and I was the only one in the theater when I arrived which didn't surprise me since it had been open for a month. I was thinking I would be the only one in the theater (and it has happened before) as I took my seat in the middle of the theater in the middle of the row. Then, a few minutes later, a guy comes in and out of ALL the empty seats in the theater, where does he choose to sit? Right behind me! I mean, not in the chair directly behind me, but he was sitting in the one next to it. Seriously, out of all the seats he could have chosen, he had to sit in that row? Sheesh, he could have at least put a row in between us. Yes, I am the kind of person who likes to have my own space especially when there are all those empty seats! Then, during the previews, the guy's wife comes in with the popcorn and drinks and I'm sure she thought her husband was there first and that I chose to sit right in front of them!
Luckily they didn't talk or do anything annoying so I was able to enjoy the movie and forget that two people were sitting right behind me.
Favreau plays Carl Casper, an acclaimed chef at a Los Angeles restaurant where he clashes with the owner (Dustin Hoffman). When a well-known critic, Ramsay Michael (Oliver Platt), is set to review their restaurant, Carl wants to cook something special, but his boss tells him he can't and stick to the regular everyday menu the restaurant is known for.
When Carl reads the review the next day, he and the food are slammed and after getting a Twitter lesson from his ten year old son, Percy, he writes a not so nice message to the critic thinking he sent it as a private message, but instead Tweeted it so anyone could see it. His son is amazed that he has so many followers the next day then has to set his dad straight that anyone can read the messages he tweets. This starts a Tweeting war between Carl and Ramsay and soon things get out of hand and Carl is fired and blows up in front of Ramsay which results in an unfortunate YouTube video.
Deciding that he needs to lie low for awhile and spend time with his son and get out of L.A., his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) suggests he come to Miami with her and Percy. There he gets in contact with his wife's other ex-husband (played by Robert Downey Jr. - when you're the director of Iron Man, it's easy to get him and Scarlett Johansson (who plays the hostess of the restaurant) to have small parts in your other movies!) who hooks him up with a food truck. The thing is a mess, though, so he and his son spend a day fixing it up - throwing junk out and buying a new stove and other necessities. He is pleasantly surprised when his sous chef, Martin (John Leguizamo), has quit his job to come down to help him. (Good thing too because he needed all the help he could get!)
Carl and Martin are going to drive the truck all the way from Miami to L.A. (that makes the road trip I took from Omaha to Charleston, SC sound not so bad!) and Carl invites Percy to join them since he's out of school for the summer. Percy tells him that he'll ask his mom to see if it's okay and two seconds later he says, "She says it's okay." That was a cute running joke in the movie because he would just text his mom to ask her permission for things. Percy, being the tech savvy kid he is, promotes the food truck online with pictures and videos posted on Facebook and Vine and this gets them a lot of press and word of mouth.
While driving they see a sign for Disney World and Carl asks his son if he wants to stop there, but Percy tells him he'd rather to go New Orleans, a place they discussed going to earlier in the movie. I don't know what kid wouldn't want to go to Disney World, especially if you are right there anyway! At each locale they visit, they serve food that is familiar to that particular region. In Miami, it's Cuban sandwiches; in New Orleans, it's po'boys; in Texas it's pork sandwiches, etc. I have to say the food in the movie does look good, but the food they fix on the food truck looks really delicious. I have never ordered food from a food truck (I have never seen a food truck in real life - I don't think they have them where I live! ) I would not recommend seeing this movie on an empty stomach because it will just make you hungry! Hell, it will probably make you hungry even if you are full!
Of course, being that they are getting a lot of press out there, Ramsay decides to check out the food truck when they return to L.A. and tells Carl he would like to back him and have him open his own restaurant. The movie's ending was a little weak because Carl and his ex-wife get back together and while there were little hints of that, it seemed tacked on.
If you are a fan of Top Chef or Master Chef, I would recommend this movie! And if you're not, I still think you might enjoy it.